Menu Printing: Comparing Costs For Better Savings

3Cost Comparison: Menu Printing Options

When it comes to operating a successful restaurant, it’s all about performing a financial tightrope act day-in and day-out. Your margins will depend on an array of factors that range from food cost fluctuations to how many wait staff work a given shift, and everything in between. Even the number of plates and glasses broken during a service will cut into your bottom line. It can be immensely difficult to balance all of your expenses while still maintaining a level of quality in terms of food, service, structure, and atmosphere.

Running a restaurant comes with myriad expenses to juggle. Surely that’s no surprise to you. Some costs, like fluctuations in food pricing, are harder to control. Fortunately, there are still some costs you can control, and those costs are a prime opportunity to help save on overhead costs. One of the biggest offenders? Menu printing. Each time food is spilled and drinks are sloshed, you could be facing partial or total menu replacement, and those costs add up quickly.

Comparing Menu Costs

When it comes to restaurant menus, your options are very nearly endless. Every restaurant has a different aesthetic and its own set of food and drink offerings, so it stands to reason that there must be menu customization options to keep up with that level of variety. So let’s break it down to the main options.

Do You Need A Cover?

The first major decision is whether you want some sort of cover to protect the pages of your menu. If you opt to use easily-printable paper sheets to display your offerings, some sort of cover can help protect those paper pages from damage caused by food and drink spills. A good quality menu cover can help create a formal, high-end feel if that’s the atmosphere you want for your restaurant.

The downfalls to reliance on menu covers are two-fold. First, there is a level of long-term value to consider. Menu covers can quickly get expensive. They range anywhere from $10 per cover all the way up to $50 per cover — and that doesn’t include your menu pages. When you need to order 100 menu covers, that cost adds up quickly.

The other issue is that of replacement. Choosing menu covers can seem like a good long-term investment, but what many restaurant owners fail to consider is how much handling those menu covers will see. Depending on the materials and your patrons, you could feasibly need to replace several menu covers a month. Even well-made options can start falling apart along the seams in under a year, which means replacing many of your menu covers each year. Instead of saving on overhead costs, choosing to go with menu covers or booklets may mean you incur additional costs each year that cut into your profits.

Protective Coverings

But without menu covers, how will you protect your menus from sloshed drinks and spilled food? Some restaurants decide to forgo protective coverings entirely and print their menus on a quality paper or cardstock. Since this is a method that can easily go through a standard printer, it’s at least an easy and expedient way to make new copies. But, depending on the price for a ream of paper, that’s still hundreds to thousands of dollars a year in paper and ink costs — more so if you’re printing color menus. This is why so many restaurants opt to use some sort of protective covering for their menus.

Plastic Sleeves

Plastic sleeves (with or without a cover) have been the go-to protective measure for years. The plastic is typically sufficient to keep spills from wrecking the paper inside. However, say condensation collects near the opening to the plastic sleeve, or a clumsy hand dips the menu down the wrong way. Those plastic coverings are helpful, but messes can still find their way around the protective plastic. In addition, you face the same struggle that you would with menu covers; they will wear and split along the seams over time. The last issue is germs and bacteria that hang around the opening of these sleeves.  Ultimately, you may find that you’re constantly replacing sheets as they’re damaged by messes.


Lamination is a similar option that offers a bit more protection — to an extent. Assuming each sheet is laminated properly and the sides are all sealed, this will provide good protection against spills. However, there are a few downsides to laminating. The big one from an aesthetic point of view is that lamination doesn’t generally fit the feel most upscale restaurants strive for. On the more practical side of things, lamination is really only effective at preventing damage from moisture when the seams remain intact. This means that as soon as patrons begin bending, flexing, and otherwise warping your laminated menus, those seams will split and damage the paper inside.  Sunlight will yellow lamination quickly and makes for a sour look to your restaurant.  Laminated corners will fray after a few months and begin to harbor germs that are very hard to clean out.

Waterproof Paper Menu Printing with TerraSlate

If you’ve been thinking that none of the options mentioned so far sound particularly cost-effective, you’d be correct. Menu covers, plastic sleeves, and lamination all incur additional costs to provide menu protection — and those costs aren’t limited to a one-time expenditure. The better answer is to move toward materials that resist damage from common culprits and are still durable enough to last through months or years of daily use. This is why you may have noticed more and more restaurants switching to waterproof menus.

Waterproof menus from TerraSlate are exactly what they sound like. They are beautifully designed, colorful, customized menus printed on waterproof paper. Unlike the other menu options out there, waterproof paper menus don’t rely on additional protective methods or continual re-printing to keep your menus looking fresh and clean. If something spills on a menu made from waterproof paper, simply wipe it off and put it back in the stack.

TerraSlate waterproof menus are an amazingly cost-effective option because there are no additional materials to replace every few months. No hardcovers that will wear out, no lamination to crack and peel, and no leaky plastic sleeves. Instead, the protection is built into waterproof stock. There is no setup fee to pay and we don't have a minimum order quantity. In comparison to the other menu options, we offer a pretty hearty savings. And that savings continues to help you keep costs down as time goes on.

TerraSlate Waterproof Paper

Here at TerraSlate, we have created a waterproof paper that does more than just guard against water damage. Our waterproof paper also repels grease as well as many chemicals, solvents, and sauces — so no need to worry about your well-loved tomato sauce staining your menus! Not only that, but our waterproof paper is also colorfast and fade-proof without any post-printing treatments. Add in the rip-proof durability and heat resistance up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and our waterproof paper is perfect for menu printing because it’s designed to withstand pretty much everything your diners might do to damage your menus. If you need new menus, simply print your design on our waterproof paper with a standard home laser printer — but don’t worry, odds are good you’ll only need to print new menus when you change up your offerings, not because of damage to your menus!

Instead of continually paying to re-print menus and replace worn menu covers or protective plastic layers, save money upfront and in the long run with TerraSlate waterproof paper. We also offer menu printing and design help, so connect with the TerraSlate team today to get started!

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